Updated 02 April 2014

4 year-old beaten to death by mother for 'being gay'

An Oregon mother is in court this week charged with the murder of her four-year-old son who she believed was homosexual.


Jessica Dutro subjected her son Zachary to savage beatings in a bid to “cure” his homosexuality and enlisted her boyfriend Brian Canady to do the same. Earlier this month, Canady pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in the child’s death and agreed to testify against Dutro. As a result, the more serious charges against him were dropped, reports the Daily Mail.

Zachary died in hospital during August 2012 from torn abdominal tissue resulting from the beatings. The official cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the abdomen, The Oregonian revealed.

In a key ruling, Judge Don Letourneau declared that a Facebook message sent from Dutro to Canady could be used as evidence. In the message the accused wrote that she knew her son was going to be gay because “He walks and talks like it. Ugh.” She informed Canady that he would have to “work on” the child to remove the perceived homosexual tendencies.

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Another of Dutro’s children, a 7 year-old daughter also testified against her mother, claiming that all of Dutro’s 4 children were subjected to physical abuse, though Zachary received more than the others.

The family were living in a homeless shelter at the time of child’s death and a delay in seeking medical attention is believed to have contributed to the boy’s death.

Read: Young cricketer stabbed to death by father

This latest high-profile case of homophobic violence comes as the UK legalised same sex marriage, following in the footsteps of many US states. Oregon does not recognise same-sex marriages performed within the state, but does recognise those performed elsewhere.

If found guilty, Dutro is likely to spend over 30 years behind bars. Canady will be sentenced to 12.5 years as a result of his plea bargain.

Read more:
What fuels family murder
Murder and torture: who can do such a thing?
Steep rise in SA child murders

Sources: The Oregonian/Daily Mail


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